Internet Law

'Silk Road' chief charged in drug case; feds say site did $1.2B in illegal Bitcoin-funded business

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A California man has been arrested at a San Francisco public library, based on a federal criminal complaint stating that he masterminded and operated an underground “Silk Road” website that arranged some $1.2 billion in illegal Bitcoin-funded transactions over a period of a little more than two years. Many transactions are alleged to have involved the sale of illegal drugs.

Defendant Ross William Ubricht was identified with the help of a Google+ account and Texas driver’s license in his true name, as a 29-year-old graduate of the University of Texas who has been at the helm of the “sprawling black-market bazaar” since early 2011 under the moniker of “Dread Pirate Roberts” or DPR, according to a criminal complaint (PDF) in the Southern District of New York that was made public this week.

He was charged with narcotics trafficking conspiracy under 21 U.S.C. Sec. 841; computer hacking conspiracy; and money laundering conspiracy. The complaint also accuses Ubricht of attempting to put a contract hit on an individual who had threatened to reveal the names of Silk Road customers, but it said no such person appears actually to have been killed.

Ubricht was arrested Tuesday afternoon at a public library in San Francisco, and taken into custody along with his computer, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The Silk Road site has been seized by the feds and shut down.

The Daily Intelligencer, PC World and the Law & Disorder blog of Ars Technica also have stories.

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